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Web Letter

IT looks like the the less a person works the more he gets paid, e.g., executives. AND the more a person works the less they are paid, e.g. care-givers. OH, did I say care-givers?

BERNE MILLS

Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

Sep 7 2008 - 11:00pm

Web Letter

Unfortunately, a much larger problem on pay for caregivers, both for the young and elderly, is not in the legal field at all.

The main problem is that the "bottom-line" productivity of the job is terrible. There is no real way to have the caregivers handle more kids or elderly to increase cash-flow. Neither, for most clients, can the charges be raised enough to cover a decent wage.

But there is an emotional viewpoint that does not want to see caregiving as an industry that has the same basic economic requirements as car rentals, supermarkets, manufacturing televisions and all other economic endeavors.

The demographics of this field are going to get much dicier as the Baby Boomers age at the same time that the available workforce shrinks. Since they have had fewer children, there are not so many family members to spread the work out, nor as many to contribute financially.

That also means a sharply reduced ability to pay more through taxes to handle this problem. Given the population patterns that are already in place as today's people age, we need to rethink many things. Rather than put more of the healthcare burden onto overstretched governments, we will be forced to admit that these functions are not part of normal government at all, and rethink the responsibilities.

In the longer term, these costs have the potential to collapse the entire society if we allow health care to remain closely tied to government. This is a real danger! We need to keep the damage to a more limited set of institutions at lower levels. This will be necessary despite the pressures from families being devastated by the costs. In fact we will need to resist that mistake because so many families will be in trouble. If the problem were smaller, and therefore, more affordable, it wouldn't be so dangerous.

To recap: Caregiving is naturally structured as an industry in which hours of labor do not produce enough money to pay these workers very well. In order to increase workers' pay rates, we need to, somehow, increase their raw productivity, which is very hard to do in this field.

John D. Froelich

Upper Darby, PA

Jul 10 2007 - 8:27am